1713 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William King

William Oldisworth, A Pindarick Ode, to the Memory of Dr. William King (1713) 3-8.



I.
A widow'd Friend invites a widow'd Muse
To tell the melancholy News,
And cloth herself with sable Weeds,
Such as will shew her Heart with Sorrow bleeds;
With Grief she can't express,
But in soft moving Verse,
Which melts to Tears, like that dark Light:
In which thou vanish'd from our Sight,
To mount the Regions of eternal Night.
For Heav'n, it seems, denied a longer Date,
Thy happy Course was run,
Thy Bus'ness here was done,
And thou art set, like the all-glorious Sun;
Yet, just before thy Death,
Thou rais'dst thy tuneful Breath,
Like dying Swans at their approaching Fate.

II.
Come hither, friendly Muse, and tell
How this good Prophet fell,
That liv'd so well:
What saucy Messenger durst strike the Blow
Of fatal Death,
And seize his Breath,
Who always was in Readiness to go.
Could not thy Wit command
The Fugitive to stand,
Which others could forbid to die,
And bless their Names with Immortality?
Hadst thou but us'd thy Art,
Death would have dropt his Dart,
And wond'ring, stopt the Pressure of his leaden Hand.

III.
Alas! he's cold. Oh! for a Grave
To bury the sad Tale,
For Tears will not prevail
Where Wit and Humour Virtue could not save!
Learning we boast in vain,
A Tomb is all we gain
For a Life spent in Study, and in Pain.
Wretched Mortality!
Couldst thou thy self but see,
Thou wouldst hate Life, as we love thee.
Why then so fond to live are vain Mankind?
Why all those Joys pursue,
That seem to make Life new,
Because they can no greater Pleasures find?
But thou, my Friend, didst higher go,
Resolv'd sublimer Things to know,
Wing'd Heaven, and left us here below.

IV.
How shouldst thou live in such an Age of Vice?
The Phoenix dwells in Paradise,
Earth was too narrow for thy Mind,
And thou, to all its Flatt'ries blind,
Now in the Bowers of Bliss
Strikest th' harmonious Lyre,
Where endless Pleasures reign,
And Peace and Piety remain
Amidst the blissful Choire.
Thou do'st in all Perfections shine,
And add'st fresh Lustre to the Courts divine;
Whilst we lament thy too too early Fate:
But greatest Blessings have the shortest Date.
In mournful Poetry
Our last Efforts we'll try,
Who best can write upon a Theme so great?

V.
Like Warriors well appointed for the Fight,
Possess'd with gen'rous Rage,
Each Poet should engage;
Each strive who best could prove
His Duty or his Love;
Each freely pay his tributary Mite.
Well may we grieve, well may we mourn thy Loss,
From whom so many drew
Such Heliconian Dew,
From whose celestial Spring such Influence flows.
Thy Wit did kindly give
Food by which others live;
For when thou sung, Mirth sat on every Face,
The savage Throng
Follow'd thy Song;
Thus ravish'd and amaz'd,
They danc'd around in one harmonious Pace,
And still with awful Silence gaz'd.

VI.
But why do I expostulate,
Since Sorrow comes too late
To hinder thine, or save another's Fate?
When Heav'n doth a desiring soul receive,
He seems to envy, that pretends to grieve.
Of what strange Atoms are we made,
That we of Death should be afraid?
That's but a still, refreshing Dream.
Why should we dread to mix with Earth,
Our Parent Clay that gave us Birth?
Or meet the Tyrant, who hath lost his Sting,
The King of Terrors, then no more a King?
But we triumphant o'er the Grave and him.

VII.
The World, ungrateful, seldom does produce
A fruitful Harvest for a virtuous Muse,
If Piety appear
To crown the happy Year,
'Tis always with Indiff'rence heard,
And with such cool Regard,
The grudging Soil just Nourishment denies,
And so the hopeful Plant too early dies;
Such Marks of Goodness seldom last,
But where they're rooted fast.
Religion here and Duty easy grew,
Thy Loyalty no new-taught Doctrines knew,
But Principles from Education drew.
Envy herself must stop ev'n here,
And close the false malicious Ear.

VIII.
Thy Vertue's fled beyond her pois'nous Blast,
Which can no longer last;
Since Heav'n, from her peculiar Care,
Did for thy Fame prepare,
For fear the vicious World should spoil the Growth,
Have chang'd thy Vertue, or debas'd thy Worth.
But Pity 'twas that thou shouldst die,
First-born of modest Poetry;
Pity thy Gaiety and Wit,
Should only know for Worms be fit,
And, mix'd with Nature's Rubbish, huddl'd lie.